Traveling to the Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix – Part 1: Airports & Services
This business aviation blog post is part of a series on operating to Abu Dhabi for the Grand Prix.
The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix takes place Nov 24-26 and it’s a highlight of the Formula One racing calendar. This event is set to attract domestic traffic and general aviation (GA) operators.
The following is an overview of what you need to know:
1. Grand Prix venue
The Abu Dhabi Formula One Grand Prix main event takes place 1500-1900 local on Sunday November 26, with preliminary race events on Friday and Saturday the 24 and 25 November. Venue is Yas Marina Circuit on Yas Island, about 30 minutes from central Abu Dhabi Intl (OMAA). We expect most GA arrivals to occur on November 23 or 24 with approximately 80% of GA attendees departing right after the race on Sunday November 26.
2. Airport options
Abu Dhabi has two GA airport options – OMAA and Bateen (OMAD). Both are 24-hour airports of entry (AOEs), located close to the city center, complete with fixed-base operators (FBOs) and full GA support services. OMAA is the scheduled commercial hub airport while OMAD is more focused on business aviation.
3. Ground handling
Both OMAA and OMAD have FBOs available with full GA support infrastructure and services. Note that during busy periods of commercial aviation movements OMAA can become somewhat congested with possible delays for fuel uplift, services and ground taxi. Ground support equipment (GSE) is available at both locations however tow bar availability for your specific make/model of aircraft should always be pre-confirmed.
There’s plenty of GA parking available at both airports, for overnight and longer term stays. We don’t anticipate issues in terms of parking availability over the Grand Prix period. Still, it’s best to get parking requests in as early as possible to ensure there will be no issues or delays.
5. Operating restrictions
Abu Dhabi does not currently have Stage 2 noise restrictions. There are no airport restrictions in place in terms of operating APUs on the ramp.
6. Alternate airport
Closest airport to the race event, other than the two Abu Dhabi airports is, Al Maktoum (OMDW) 47 miles away. Should you choose to park at OMDW it’s about a 90-minute drive to the Yas Marina Circuit.
7. Fuel uplift
When operating to either Abu Dhabi airport it’s important to have a fuel release. This should be forwarded in advance to your local handler. The PIC, in addition, should also carry the release – not just a copy but the actual confirmation of the request – to show the fuel provider prior to hook up.
8. In-flight catering
In-flight catering services are excellent in this region. Pretty much anything you require, with the exception of pork products, can be provided quickly and efficiently. While 24 hours notification of catering uplifts is recommended a minimum lead time of at least 18 hours should be planned on. Should you wish to cater directly from a local hotel or restaurant this will not an issue and your handler an assist with such requests.
9. Security considerations
Abu Dhabi is a safe area, with a threat level of just two. Both airports are highly secure, with adequate fencing and airside access controls, routine patrols and electronic surveillance. Aircraft guards are not necessary but can be arranged with advance notification if your flight department standard operating procedures (SOPs) specify this.
10. Local transport
You may consider pre-paid (car with driver) transport or even public taxis from reputable companies for crew transport. UBER services are also available. If you wish to arrange secure transport this is also available but it’s best to book early due to high VIP demand over this time period.
11. Operating costs
Costs of operating to and parking at Abu Dhabi and the UAE are similar to major European centers. However, fuel prices are particularly low and close to what you might pay at such low cost uplift locations as Shannon (EINN).
Abu Dhabi has a few different options for airports with full services and parking. There aren’t any operating restrictions to consider when utilizing airports in this area. The UAE is a lower threat level and operators should refer to their SOPs regarding any security needs.
Stay tuned for Part 2, which covers landing permits, customs, immigration, and visas when operating to the UAE for the Grand Prix.
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